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Study advises new approach to tired truckers

Kentucky motorists who share the road with trucks and other commercial vehicles may benefit from research into ways to fight driver fatigue. Occurrences of truckers violating laws prohibiting them from driving while fatigued have dropped since 2011. Nonetheless, experts say that the trucking industry would be better served by regulations that clarify what it means to be fatigued and specify how law enforcement should deal with tired commercial operators.

A report which was sponsored by the U.S. Department of Transportation and released in early 2016 took a look at how existing data related fatigue measurement techniques to the risk of truck accidents. Researchers came to the conclusion that there were significant blind spots in the understanding of what impacts a driver's fitness for work. They recommended that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration improve its methodologies to deliver better information and potentially link its data with sources like driver electronic health records.

According to the study, existing anti-fatigue methods like hours of service limitations may be ineffective at actually guaranteeing drivers get sufficiently rested when they are not operating. While the kinds of medical exams required have been deemed effective at discovering whether individual drivers' preexisting medical conditions could place them at heightened risk of fatigue, the study's authors concur with other observers who say medical exams aren't administered consistently.

Sleep-deprived truck drivers pose a known risk to others who are on the road at the time. The accidents they cause can result in serious injuries and extensive medical expenses. Injured victims may want to meet with an attorney in order to determine whether the trucking company itself in addition to the drowsy truck driver should bear financial responsibility for the losses that they have sustained.

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